A 29-year-old woman from Russia has been arrested in Washington, D.C. on accusations that she conspired to infiltrate political organizations, including the NRA, on behalf of a senior Russian official.
Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russian Federation "by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organisations having influence in American politics", the statement said.
Just hours after President Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Justice Department revealed charges against a Russian citizen for conspiracy against the U.S.
According to the criminal complaint, Butina had sent this article to an unnamed Russian official (from context likely Russian banker and alleged mobster Alexander Torshin, a close associate of Butina).
Driscoll denied that Butina was "an agent of the Russian Federation", calling her instead a recent graduate of American University in Washington "with a Masters Degree in International Relations and a 4.0 grade point average". The Treasury Department sanctioned Torshin in April 2018 as part of an effort to punish the Russian government for "malign activity" around the world.
He said she testified behind closed doors before the Senate Committee on Intelligence and offered to speak to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The affidavit also alleges that on October 4, 2016, U.S. Person 1 emailed an acquaintance and claimed to be involved in "securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin" and an unnamed political party.
In a November 2016 tweet, Torshin boasted that he and Butina were the only lifetime members of the NRA from Russian Federation.
The arrest is the latest dizzying development related to Russian Federation in recent days and revealed only about three hours after President Donald Trump's press conference in Helsinki in which he shocked the world by siding with Vladimir Putin rather than his own intelligence agencies regarding election meddling by Russia's spy agencies in the 2016. The pair did, however, have a brief meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at a NRA event in May 2016.
Maria Butina had developed close ties with the Republican party and had become an advocate for gun rights, according to USA media reports. Last year, the Daily Beast reported that Butina held a costume party in Washington, D.C., on November 12, 2016, which was attended by Trump campaign aides.